Care and Feeding of Your New Divorce LawyerBy DADvocacy™ | February 27, 2014
You’ve got yourself a family law lawyer. Congrats! Here’s how to keep him or her doing their best for you.
1. Help your lawyer meet the deadlines imposed by law. When your lawyer asks for contacts, facts, or documents get those back to your lawyer as soon as possible. If the information is missing, try to get it. Try hard. You will spend more time and money on your lawyer making excuses to the judge about what is missing than you will spend actually tracking down what is needed.
2. Treat your lawyer’s staffers with respect. Most lawyers regard their staffers as their family and maybe even their saviors. Don’t mess with the staffers, because if the choice is between the client and the staffer, the client will get the boot.
3. Don’t lie to your lawyer. It’s like lying to your doctor but the ramifications cost a lot more and there are no good drugs to help you out. Lawyers can work with bad facts, so long as they start working on them early and they don’t get blindsided in front of the judge.
4. If you want to get the most out of your lawyer, let them tell you where your case is problematic, then don’t shoot the messenger. Good lawyers tell you the truth about your case and recommend when you should shut it down and settle. Bad lawyers paint you a rainbow and drag it out for their own gain.
5. Understand that you are usually not the lawyer’s only client. Late night and weekend emails and calls should be used very sparingly. We have families and vacations and we ask that you respect them. Family law is considered by most to be the legal practice area with the highest stress level. We need our downtime to stay sane and effective.
6. Don’t tell your lawyer about your friend’s/barber’s/sister’s divorce case unless that person wants to pay for your lawyer’s time while they explain why your case is completely different from theirs. I mean really, do you tell your dermatologist about your friend’s/barber’s/sister’s rash and then expect to tell you why they can’t treat it the same?
7. If you are considering a reconciliation with your spouse, update your lawyer right away. Litigation hurts your reconciliation and vice versa.
8. If your attorney doesn’t want to twitter or reddit or linkedin or friend with you, it’s because this is a bad idea for your case. Don’t take it personally. In fact, ask your attorney if they want you to avoid social media during the pendency of the case altogether.
9. Pay your attorney as agreed. If you will have trouble paying your bill, let your lawyer know as soon as possible and usually there is some type of solution that is satisfactory for both of you. If your bill has an error, speak up. Your invoice is a document generated by a human being who is capable of error. Realize that lawyers are paid for their time, experience and expertise. I cringe when I see a hearty docket full of substantive written work and someone wants to hire me to replace their current lawyer because the lawyer “didn’t do anything”.
10. Realize that your lawyer has very little control over when you have a hearing. The most limiting factor is the judge’s schedule, which was likely already packed before your case came along. Essentially, your case must get in line behind those that came before yours. The opposing attorney’s schedule must also be considered and respected.